Reflections on Amazing Associations

Reflections on Amazing Associations

While we don’t watch a lot of television in my house, one show that we set our clocks by is The Amazing Race, which airs on Sunday nights on CBS. The show not only gives our daughters a glimpse at other regions (and cultures) around the world, but it also teaches them character traits that they will need to succeed in life, such as perseverance, courage and trust in their teammates.


McKinley’s amazing Shelley Sanner, CAE
on summit day of Baker. She is training to
one day climb Denali/McKinley.

As I thought more about this show, I drew some comparisons to (excuse the pun) Amazing Associations. So here goes:

  • Emphasizing the positive: The reason why so many reality shows develop a strong following is because they expose the underbelly of our society. Shows like Survivor, Jersey Shore and the Real Housewives series focus on people’s deceitfulness, selfishness and poor decision-making. Don’t get me wrong – this makes for entertaining television. But The Amazing Race focuses on the positive traits of humanity (integrity, sportsmanship and effort, to name a few) and celebrates them. Likewise, successful associations tend to represent the “best” in their respective fields: those professionals who support “the good of the order,” and are willing to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of others in their field, even if they happen to work for a competitor.
  • “Core” Relationships: Yes, The Amazing Race is in fact a race around the world, but at its core, it’s about relationships between two individuals who adapt together to overcome the obstacles in their path. Likewise, amazing associations are about relationships – between members, within the industry, with lawmakers, etc. – and at their foundation, they strive to help their members succeed in their chosen fields. Those relationships succeed and grow because associations deliver what they promise.
  • Never settle, and never give up: Maybe it’s just clever editing, but there always seems to be a twist during each leg of The Amazing Race, where a team looks to be dead in the water, only to make a furious comeback in the waning seconds to remain alive. Teams never quit on this show; even when a team is sure it is in last place, its members sprint to the finish line. Meanwhile, the teams who feel like they’re leading the pack remind themselves not to get too comfortable, because one poor choice can lead to their downfall. We see these traits with associations all the time; organizations may feel like they’re slipping and have the data to prove it (membership decline, loss of revenue, etc.), but they vow to improve, and often are able to do so after evaluating their operations and the needs of their members. Meanwhile, associations that are growing are continually innovating and asking their members how they can improve. They know success can be fleeting if you get used to it.

If you have not watched The Amazing Race, I would encourage you to check it out sometime. The competition can be fierce, there are certainly funny scenes, and there’s always a poignant moment to remind you of what’s important in life. Associations are often equally amazing.